Re: One Single example of the difference a really good GM in the cap era can make
posted at 3/28/2012 6:34 AM EDT
Without reading all the posts (so I apologize if what I say below has already been said), I agree with the original poster's contention that BB, as a GM, does a good job of building depth. As a coach, he also does a great job of getting the most from his players, including those without true starting-level talent. In fact, BB's skills as a coach make him look better as a GM because he gets more out of some players than just about any other coach in the league would get.
I think BB is a very good GM. Especially when you consider the low round draft picks he's been working with (and the number of forfeited high round picks the Pats have had to suffer with), his drafting and trading have been generally good. The one dent in BB's record, I think, is some failures in talent selection that have resulted in a few unproductive drafts and a few busts in free agency. Now every GM makes mistakes and taking into account BB's drafting position, he's not made any more mistakes than any other GM, but he's also not been all that much better either, at least in many drafts. The consequence has been a team a bit short on impact players at some key positions. This is particularly clear in the secondary where many picks have just failed to pan out, in the receiver corp, in the running back corp, and at outside LB. While you have to praise BB for acquisitions like Volmer and Gronk and Hernandez and many others, you also have to weigh those against relatively high draft picks that went bust (sometimes after showing a little potential) like Butler, Tate, Crable, Maroney, Merriweather. You also have to recognize some inconsistency in free agent signings (where guys like Moss, Welker, and Harrison were great successes but guys like Thomas and Bodden were not very productive given their cap cost). And finally, you have to wonder about BB's tendency to let guys leave (Samuel, Seymour, Vrabel a host of receivers such as Gaffney, Givens, and even Moss) without having a clear replacement for them. To be truly great, BB needs to ensure there's a pipeline of talent to fill those positions as key guys leave. Sometimes that hasn't been the case.
So overall, I rate BB as a very good GM, among the best in the league, but still not perfect. As Babe says, he's helped a lot by having Brady and by his own coaching ability. And as good as he's done at keeping the team talented enough to win every year, you can't quite give him unreserved praise as a GM when for much of last year the entire secondary was staffed with street free agents, practice squad call-ups, and wide receivers. There's a reason why the pass defense was so weak last year--and a lot of that has to do with inferior talent, which ultimately is the GM's responsibility.